Rainy night delight: Yarmouth locks up playoff spot with 56-6 win over Freeport
YARMOUTH—While the Freeport Falcons saw their first varsity season come to an end with a decisive loss Saturday night, the Falcons can take heart and realize that fortunes turn quickly in Western Class C.
All they had to do was look across the field.
The Yarmouth Clippers completed their stirring rise and clinched a first-ever playoff berth with a 56-6 win over Freeport (which served as the home team on Yarmouth's turf, due to the originally scheduled game being moved because of bad weather).
The Clippers, who didn't win a game their first varsity season and just only emerged victorious once in 2008, made it six straight in 2009 behind another overwhelming showing of offensive speed, staunch defense and timely special teams play to set up a Western C quarterfinal date at Livermore Falls next weekend.
"I'm very proud of the boys, the seniors especially," said Yarmouth coach Jim Hartman. "They could have quit. Our coaching staff has done a great job."
The Clippers expected to be much improved in 2009, but after losses at Old Orchard Beach (28-12) and at home to Oak Hill (26-23), it looked like more of the same. Then, Yarmouth hit its stride in a big way, winning five straight games by an average margin of 58-10. Included in that run was a statement-making 48-26 home triumph over Lisbon on Oct. 2.
Freeport held its own in its first varsity year. After falling at Dirigo in the opener, the Falcons earned their first-ever victory, 24-6 over visiting Sacopee. Freeport lost its next five prior to the Yarmouth game, but hung tough against Madison, Traip and Boothbay.
The Clippers and Falcons were fierce rivals prior to becoming varsity programs, with Freeport enjoying more head-to-head success at the junior varsity level. That changed in a big way Saturday night amid a steady rain.
The Falcons got the ball first and gave Yarmouth great field position after a high snap on a punt. The Clippers promptly drove 25 yards in three plays to take the lead for good. Senior Eric Estabrook scored on a 6-yard run. His extra point attempt was blocked, but Yarmouth was up, 6-0.
Freeport gained a first down on its next series, but on third-and-10 from midfield, Clippers senior Brodie Woodson intercepted a pass and appeared bound for the end zone, but out of nowhere Falcons senior standout Miguel Beckels ran him down and stripped him of the ball just before he hit paydirt, leading to a touchback.
Freeport had new life, but gained just 4 yards on two plays. Freshman James Purdy then attempted to punt, but it was blocked by Yarmouth junior Kyler Morton and the Clippers took over at the Falcons 17. This time, it took just two plays to score as senior David Dietz did the honors with a 7-yard run to make it 13-0.
Freeport then made its presence felt when Beckels got free and raced in for a 64-yard score with 3:10 to play in the first period. The two-point conversion run fell short, but the Falcons were only down by seven, 13-6.
After Yarmouth junior Nate Pingitore attempted a pass that was intercepted by Freeport junior Matt MacMillan, the Falcons had a chance to draw even, but as the second period began, they turned the ball over on downs and the Clippers got the ball at the Freeport 42.
Four plays later, senior Andrew King scored on a 3-yard run. Estabrook added the point-after for a 20-6 advantage. On the Falcons next possession, a fumbled pitch rolled into the end zone and a Freeport lineman fell on it for a safety which made it 22-6 Yarmouth. After a long return from junior Asa Arden of the ensuing free kick, Estabrook scored on a 30-yard run to make it 29-6.
The Falcons next series ended with a blocked punt (King and senior Spencer Dorsett did the honors). Two plays later, Woodson scored on a 3-yard run for a 36-6 advantage. Just before halftime, Pingitore broke free for a 30-yard scoring rush and the Clippers had a commanding 43-6 lead at the break.
"Freeport's a tough team despite their record," Pingitore said. "They played a heck of a
Beckels scored on that long TD run, it was a close game. They played
100 percent on every play. They hit hard. They were one of the fastest
teams we've played all year."
"(The Clippers) have a lot of team speed," Freeport coach Rob Grover lamented. "We couldn't stop them. Our punts were
killing us. They wore us down and we made some mistakes. That's first
Yarmouth would score twice more in the third. Pingitore returned the opening kickoff of the second half 79 yards to paydirt and with 6:33 to play in the period, Pingitore scored on a 14-yard run. The Clippers went on to the 56-6 victory and won the first annual "Battle of the Bay" trophy.
Pingitore and MacMillan (who had an interception and several nice kick returns) were voted their teams' respective most valuable players.
"We played exceptionally well on defense, which has set the tone for us
all year," said Hartman. "We returned the ball well. We blocked punts. We had a short
field all the time, which really helped us. It was a huge advantage. Freeport's
a good football team with a tough offense. Beckels is a really good
back. MacMillan is a good returner. He did a fantastic job returning
"We're three plays from being undefeated," said Hartman. "We're clicking now. We have a
lot of weapons. They're all great athletes. If you take away the middle
on us, we'll go outside. If you take away the outside, we'll come in
with David Dietz. We lost some continuity with the offense, scoring so
quick. We haven't passed the ball."
Pingitore rushed for 84 yards and two scores on six carries. Estabrook rushed twice for 36 yards and two TDs. He also completed 1-of-2 passes for 27 yards. Woodson had the reception and also rushed for a 3-yard TD. Dietz had 27 yards and a score on four carries. King rushed for 29 yards and a TD on four tries. Arden had 10 yards on five carries.
Beckels finished with 103 yards and a TD on 12 carries. Senior Kyle Moore bowed out with a 50 yard performance on 13 carries. Senior Calvin Burgess had 16 yards on eight rushes.
Yarmouth finished with a 246-154 yards advantage. Each team had three turnovers.
Freeport finished 1-7, but has plenty to be proud of and to look forward to.
"I'm happy," Grover said. "We scored a lot of points. We got better and better
defensively. We won a game and almost beat Madison. We were competitive
in a couple other games. We're getting there. We're very young. We have
to get bigger and stronger and get in the weight room. Overall, I'm
As for Yarmouth (seeded seventh for the Western C playoffs), it now looks forward to its historic trip to No. 2 Livermore Falls (7-1). The teams didn't play this fall. Last year, the Clippers fell 20-12 at home to the Andies.
"Livermore will be tough," Hartman said. "They run the same offense we do and they'll come after us hard. They're known for going full speed ahead."
"We've come together as a team," Pingitore added. "Hitting the weight room turned it
around. We have experience. Multiple seniors. Great captains and
coaches. We expect to go up there and play a good game and hopefully
get a win. Livermore's a tough team. We'll show them how tough we are."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com